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Gravel gear advice
Last Post 06/21/2020 10:16 PM by 79 pmooney. 20 Replies.
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thinline

Posts:300

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06/08/2020 08:18 AM
So, I took the plunge and got a gravel bike.  It should be ready Wednesday.  One thing I am looking for advice on is just what is appropriate to carry on rides for issues with tubeless tires?  I know the sealant should fix any smaller punctures, but what do folks do when enough air is lost before the puncture seals so that continuing to rise is maybe not a great idea?  Do you carry one of the little, collapsible hand pumps?  I read somewhere in all my research that some companies that make and sell tubeless and/or tubeless ready equipment will invalidate a warranty if a CO2 charge is used for inflation.  Also, should I carry tube just in case a tire is punctured or cut in a way that the sealant cant close up?

Any other words to the unwise on what to carry on a tubeless adventure?  On the fyo front, on my road bike I carry a CO2 charge and shooter (whatever that's called), a spare tube, and an extra foldable bead tire just in case.  I have actually needed the spare tire a time or two over the years.  Figure a spare tire for the gravel bike is a tad much to shove into a jersey pocket!

Thanks for any wisdom you can share!

Looking forward to exploring lots of dirt and gravel in Vermont!
thinline

Posts:300

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06/08/2020 08:20 AM
Posted By thinline . on 06/08/2020 08:18 AM
So, I took the plunge and got a gravel bike.  It should be ready Wednesday.  One thing I am looking for advice on is just what is appropriate to carry on rides for issues with tubeless tires?  I know the sealant should fix any smaller punctures, but what do folks do when enough air is lost before the puncture seals so that continuing to ride is maybe not a great idea?  Do you carry one of the little, collapsible hand pumps?  I read somewhere in all my research that some companies that make and sell tubeless and/or tubeless ready equipment will invalidate a warranty if a CO2 charge is used for inflation.  Also, should I carry a tube just in case a tire is punctured or cut in a way that the sealant cant close up?

Any other words to the unwise on what to carry on a tubeless adventure?  On the fyi front, on my road bike I carry a CO2 charge and shooter (whatever that's called), a spare tube, and an extra foldable bead tire just in case.  I have actually needed the spare tire a time or two over the years.  I figure a spare tire for the gravel bike is a tad much to shove into a jersey pocket!

Thanks for any wisdom you can share!

Looking forward to exploring lots of dirt and gravel in Vermont!


Orange Crush

Posts:3554

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06/08/2020 09:33 AM
I remain unconvinced of the advantages of tubeless. Too finicky as your post already alludes to.

I carry two spare tubes instead of one plus a patch kit in case, CO2 plus mini pump just in case, tools for easy fixes. Extra bars and gel. Have yet to suffer a flat riding gravel since 2016 on some pretty harsh terrain. It’s a matter of proper tires and pressure, maybe luck.

You will of course need a handlebar bag to fit all that. Make sure it’s secure and doesn’t bounce. I have a mini bungee for that purpose.

Make sure you can walk on your shoes for the inevitable walk a bike sections.

Duct tape is always useful. Was a photo of someone who broke the frame in 4 locations, they made a splint.

I recently got a new gravel bike which can fit big ass tires, 42 mm resolutes. It also has posh 30x36 gearing. Huge improvement over my previous “gravel bike” which only fit 32s and had 34x32 gearing.

A bear bell and or bear spray may be handy depending where you go. Several sightings in recent weeks. Possibly a grizzly last Friday.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:3572

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06/08/2020 09:54 AM
Gonna disagree with OC re: tubeless....IMO, it is almost essential as it will significantly improve your rding experience (comfort, traction) while reducing the chances of puncture.

Should you carry an extra tube? 100% yes. If you get a sidewall slash, sealant won't take care of it. Also, put a few wraps of duct take around your seatpost. A simple, easy way to make a tire boot if you get a slash, etc.

For punctures that are too big for sealant to fill, but not big enough for a boot, get a tubeless repair kit (strips of "bacon") that will plug the hole and let the sealant do its job. Dynaplug even makes one with a built in CO2 cartridge so that you can plug and inflate in one easy step, avoiding having to inflate via the valve stem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziv5zT5Y4sQ

As a final back-up, definitely carry a small pump incase your CO2 cartidges fail....or you get multiple flats.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Orange Crush

Posts:3554

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06/08/2020 12:54 PM
The bottom line on tubeless is that it requires a relatively detailed understanding of what to do and what not to do (type of sealant, replacement of sealant etc etc.). If you are willing to invest mental capacity and time into figuring out those details then tubeless is probably for you as it does have advantages. If you just want to ride around mindlessly, tubeless is not for you. I am solidly in the latter category and cannot be bothered with maintenance aspect.

The comment section on this article is pretty good at highlighting a bunch of different experiences and opinions.
https://road.cc/content/feature/what-they-dont-tell-you-about-tubeless-257746

More importantly, what bike did you get? And let us know how it goes.

longslowdistance

Posts:2414

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06/08/2020 02:26 PM
CK does your endorsement of tubeless for gravel apply beyond dedicated tubeless tires?
Cosmic Kid

Posts:3572

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06/08/2020 03:00 PM
CK does your endorsement of tubeless for gravel apply beyond dedicated tubeless tires?


Absolutely not....while you can get away with converting non-tubless MTB wheels / tires into tubeless, that is largely due to the low pressure used in MTB riding. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to make a non-tubeless road wheel or tire tubeless.

Gravel probably falls somewhere in the middle, as the pressure is lower than road and higher than MTB....so maybe a non-tubeless tire could work, but given the plethora of tubeless gravel options out there, it isn't even worth taking the risk. Almost every top-end gravel tire is either tubeless or has a tubeless equivalent.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Cosmic Kid

Posts:3572

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06/08/2020 03:03 PM
requires a relatively detailed understanding of what to do and what not to do (type of sealant, replacement of sealant etc etc.).


It is actually pretty simple....yes, there are a number of sealant options, but choose one of the top brands (Stan's, Agent Orange) and top it off every 6 months. Once a year, clear it out and start over. it is pretty much "set it and forget it".

Quite honestly, the biggest hassle is trying to wrestle a tubeless tire onto a tubeless wheel....and I have found I am more than willing to pay the LBS to do it for me (and toss in a case of beer).
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
smokey52

Posts:381

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06/08/2020 10:13 PM
thinline- We went to our niece's wedding near Barton a few years ago and made a day trip to the Northeast Kingdom cycling trails. Fantastic rides! MTB, not gravel. (not so relevant to the tube/tubeless conversation, but very Vermont)
-smokey
thinline

Posts:300

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06/09/2020 08:28 AM
I have definitely opted to go tubeless so was looking for opinions on the "how to get home just in case" scenario. I have done lots of research and am comfortable with the whole process, using sealant, getting the tire seated, cleaning out once a season etc.

Smoky, not a mountain biker but I have heard nothing but raves about that trail system. I have road biked in that area a fair amount and it's quite nice for that as well, assuming the road has been maintained! Ah, Vermont. Those trails have brought a much needed economic boost to an area of the state with little economic activity, especially during the summer. Pretty cool end result for all concerned.

The bike is a GT Grade Carbon Pro. Looking forward to it.

Thanks gang.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:3572

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06/09/2020 01:36 PM
"how to get home just in case"


Minimum equipment - one tube, 2 CO2, tubeless repair kit, duct tape for a boot. For tire levers, I prefer a metal lever to help get the bead off the rim (can be impossible with a thick, plastic lever). But if you use a metal lever, be super-careful putting the tire back on if you have carbon rims.

Optional - extra tube(s), mini handpump

And an active Uber / Lyft account. Serious / not serious.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
longslowdistance

Posts:2414

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06/09/2020 03:57 PM
Cell phone to call wife doesn’t always work in gravel country.
Dale

Posts:1453

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06/09/2020 06:30 PM
MBT and cx pit bike/ gravel bike- tubeless w/ Orange Seal. Can't remember the last time I flatted either.

When I redo the tires or replace one of them on the mbt there are loads of sealed puncture with remnants of locust thorns protruding through.

Gravel where I ride is chunk rock, chert, potholes all a pinch-flat waiting to happen with a tube.

I carry a spare for both but as previously stated... can't remember the last flat on those bikes.

Zero interest in tubeless road even if they end up being superior, I don't want to buy new wheels
Orange Crush

Posts:3554

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06/09/2020 06:38 PM
All of my recent gravel rides have been 80-90% outside mobile phone range.

At least with most of them there was the knowledge that there were others out there (backcountry campers/hikers, off roaders, loggers, hunters). Instead of Uber / Lyft it would likely have been a ride in back of a heavy duty truck or jeep. Most of them had never seen a cyclist in their neck of woods but so far they're all good sports. One of them (clearing brush off road) offered me a beer (most likely it would have been Bud light or something like it) but I told it would be ill advised, it still being a 50 km haul back to civilization. From my last ride I ended up creating a strava segment just to see if anyone else had ever ridden there but except for my ride partner no one showed (not sure what retroactive analysis capability of strava is though). So now I own a KOM - when you crown yourself haha.

Dale - lots of rides on sharp granite pothole riddled FSRs here. I have yet to puncture a tube. My only puncture in last couple years has been on road bike, a giant staple.
longslowdistance

Posts:2414

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06/10/2020 05:58 AM
Hey Smokey, Bad News: some of the private landowners that make the kingdom trails possible no longer allow access.
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